Marcus Williams and Timothy Holley

Recorded January 17, 2011 Archived January 17, 2011 39:46 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBX007608


Friends Timothy D. Holley, 36, and Marcus M. Williams, 25, discuss comemorating Martin Luther King Day, their careers and spirituality.

Subject Log / Time Code

MW & TH discuss how they self identify as either Black or African American and what the different terms mean to them.
MW reflects on the differences that were apparent to him working in an all-white school versus an all-black school, noting that the quality of materials and resources were lesser in the all-black school.
TH talks about his career as an occupational therapist and how he is grateful that he grew up with opportunities.
TH was raised Southern Baptist and grew up going to church every Sunday. He reflects on what his religion and spirituality have taught him as an adult.
TH & MW talk about how they met through a mutual friend. MW tells TH that he had a real influence on his life and his decision to go to college.


  • Marcus Williams
  • Timothy Holley

Recording Location

Mobile Booth East

Venue / Recording Kit



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00:04 Okay, my name is Tim Holly age 36, this is January 17th, 2011. We're in Birmingham Alabama and the relationship to the person that I'm talking to you today. We're friends.

00:19 My name is Marcus Williams. I am 25 the date is January 17th to 2011. The location is Birmingham, Alabama and my relationship to tell me his friend.

00:33 Okay Market. How do you feel today? Since this is MLK Day Martin Luther King jr. Day. How does it make you feel as that African-American male blackmail, I really feel today. I really feel inspired. I feel like today is a day to actually get out and see where we've come from nothing. We take advantage of a lot of different things different things. Now that people didn't have back when dr. King was around. So today is a great day to observe what we actually have now that wasn't available then.

01:14 When you say what do we have what we have now? What it what are you meaning just for the answers to that this morning? I went to IHOP to have breakfast and looking around IHOP. I noticed that there were a lot of different people there and we know that not too long ago restaurants were segregated and we would not have been able to go and sit in a clean restaurant the width of the people that had that were different from us. So with that being said, I'm just happy to have an integrated Society. She will I notice at first when I said, you know characterize you as an African American male you corrected me about saying that you were black. Why did you correct me or are you I mean, would you rather be called black and silver African American and why?

02:06 I prefer to be called black because the term African-American says that I'm Marcus Williams and from Africa and I'm not my ancestors were obviously but I'm not I am my parents are American and I'm American as well. My skin color is black. Okay, cool.

02:32 I'm with me. I really don't care. You can call me black brown African-American or whatever. I'm just very secure Within Myself. I know with my ethnicity I mean

02:47 It is part African. I mean also to I have Indian in my family so I can understand what you're saying about being called black, but just me personally, I don't care. I just feel that we focus so much on color.

03:03 Okay, so

03:11 So when you say

03:15 I never mind. How do you feel about today being Martin Luther King Day?

03:20 I feel great.

03:23 I remember being younger and I was just happy to be out of school. Not really thinking about the actual day, you know, just knowing about dr. King.

03:36 Back, then it was more. So just history as a kid just you know, but now I look at it and I have a sense of just being proud of who I am looking back at my ancestors. Just seeing the struggles that they had to go through in order for me to be able to be at the place that I am today to be able to get a quality education to have a great job and also to to just have you know different opportunities in life which in the past I would be able to help so this is a great day for me. I think as I get older I have more respect and more.

04:19 Pride I guess in this holiday. Yeah, I'm thinking about that to you. It's funny that you say great job. I'm happy to be able to do something that I love to do. I just I wondered though sometimes about the state of our people are considering I work in a in all-black school system and it said they would still say that but an all-black school system. I wonder where that stuff ever change will it ever be to a point where we are fully integrated and what things are I wouldn't say that I don't think things are ever going to become equal or else you wouldn't have anything to work for but as far as people.

05:04 Mingling with each other. All I wanted was that ever ever change is we shouldn't still have black schools, but we do in Birmingham, you know, so I'm wondering about that, but I'm thankful that I'm able to teach my kids.

05:21 Have you always worked in a black school system? No, I haven't and again, why was it like that and I wonder about those kids. I had to fight to get a a black history program started at their school and I didn't understand the struggle. So I just wondered where those things those are some of the places some of the main places where we need to emphasize pride in in in us as human beings and individuals, but we don't and I just wonder where they ever change.

06:07 A my Little King Day really makes me think about situations like that.

06:20 Marcus of the differences you saw in an all-black School versus an all-white school. First of all, the quality of materials that were made available to the students. I students in the black school system have older textbooks the materials as far as a computer or older if they work also I would say even the even the books in the library I owe the titles as opposed to the ones that were in the white school system in the Weiss school system by the books are brand-new practically, the library had more titles available. They have some of those all the titles like the black schools, but they had a few new ones.

07:12 And simple things such as the chalkboard in a white school. I had to hit the market is right erase board. Where is in my black school with still dealing with chalk? And that's that's huge to me.

07:30 Simply because it's it shows that out. It's an outdated mentality and those outdated materials reflect that outdated mentality and

07:44 It's better for the kids of today to learn.

07:48 In according to today's standards as opposed to an outdated mentality outdated is old and why not bring your kids up Miss like they're just sitting behind so I don't like that. So what makes a dry erase board better than a chalkboard the same information is being presented. I use that as an example on how to say things are not up to date. But if you want to talk about dry erase board erase board isn't as messy as a chalkboard we can use colors on a dry erase board is also the dry erase board is better better suited for machine such as the

08:37 The Elmo where documents are placed on it and you can show those documents to the class. So, I mean, it's just it's just a better better option for for a teacher.

08:52 So, I know you're pretty young. So are you the youngest person in your school or I am the youngest person? How do you cope with that?

09:05 It's tough at times. I think my first year teaching it was really tough because being a younger person a lot more immature at the start of a career and

09:22 That has its various obstacles. But I mean now I feel I feel okay. I feel like I blend in a little bit and that's more so because I understand the ins-and-outs of does not necessarily because I've changed so much but it's just because I understand things that are acceptable and unacceptable in society and on the job.

09:46 So what about about your career? What do you do in?

09:54 What I do. I'm an occupational therapy. Okay therapist. Are there a lot of blacks in your field or?

10:02 Is growing back in the day? Usually I'm the field was dominated by white females. But as change the lot not just color but just, you know being a female dumb, you know, it's the dominators. I feel that is dominated by females. Now, we have more males in the field the same thing goes with physical therapy. We have more male males in the field now and also to there more African Americans that are in occupational therapy now than in the past and just I really think a lot of it has to do with when it comes to blacks just not knowing not being informed of different careers out there. I must of the time if you say you want a job and he'll feel you're either a doctor or nurse and that's the only thing that really know about doctor career. Is either teacher lawyer doctor

11:02 You know, so I was privileged because I shouldn't say it like this but growing up I was in a you know, what integrated school system. So I wouldn't know how to function in an all-black setting to be honest. I'm alive from elementary school until undergraduate school to graduate school, you know, so therefore I and when I think about what you talked about different resources that were available at all available to kids and I had an opportunity to where we had a lot of resources. So even being like in junior high school or what and I I was already informed about different careers different fields or are you know, it was wide open and it you know, I had that choice away. And also I have the motivation and we're asking I already knew what I wanted to do before I graduated from high school.

11:59 So and I'm a lava field of Occupational Therapy. I love helping people with disabilities.

12:06 I know I'm going to be like that but occupational therapy first, we start with occupation occupation means something that is Meaningful and purposeful for that individual as an occupational therapist at work or with individuals with disabilities, which can be physical as well as a mental. So I helped them to function at their full capacity and that could be from walking to the refrigerator to get something to eat that could be driving a car. If he's learning how to take care of their self care needs which we call activities of daily living which can be dressing toileting things of that nature grooming. And so another words we help them to adjust to their new disability.

12:57 Or it could be a disability that they were born with it, but we just have them to function at full capacity.

13:03 Celebrities been to the next question. Do you think that I know but do you think

13:11 Are you at the place that you thought that you were going to be at our Sage?

13:17 20 years ago 10 years ago

13:21 10 years ago

13:25 I was like kind of I've already always been very ambitious but

13:33 I don't know.

13:36 The fear the most have been very great to me in the sense that you know, I already told Tina for 6 years. I was a social worker for 4 before I became an occupational therapist and and fit of Occupational Therapy have already been a director of rehab manager for three and a half years. So I never thought that I will be in management so quickly, you know going to the field of occupational therapy. So I guess it would say it's kind of moving a little faster than I thought. When did I go to 1% of my PhD, so

14:11 I don't know. I never I kind of thought I would just work for a minute before you know, how did you know go back to school to get my PhD a while something some kind of flooring for me, which I'm blessed with that. So I have no complaints.

14:30 Okay Marcus.

14:32 You do have feelings right? Yes. I have seven and you are the oldest. Yes, how what is your role or do you feel like you have a role in influencing your siblings that you are the oldest? Yes, I do feel like I have a role. I actually have a pretty pretty large roll and I found that out through my oldest sister just I'm their role model and I didn't know that I was their role model and I didn't make decisions based on thinking that I was their role model. So is when I found out it just puts that much more pressure on me. So yes, I definitely have a

15:17 A response. They're my responsibility in a sentence.

15:23 I found out I was a role model on my sister's 17th birthday. I want to say it may have been 18th and it was through.

15:37 I don't know. Maybe she was 17 and it was my birthday or something, but she gave me a card and that card let me know that I was the person that she really looks up to also now that Facebook is around Facebook, but now the Facebook is around sometimes she'll go on her status and she'll put something there that I said is if you know to me it's just something that I said, but for her is something profound and so that's how I can tell that she's a role model and they are a role model to her. And I enjoyed it has its perks but it definitely is a tough position to play. I never thought of siblings being looking up to each other. I know you you're supposed to say, you know, and the way that the way that you interact with her.

16:31 At first I didn't understand it, but now I do so, it's just that it says saying that that that position you play as an older older sibling. I know if a is older than you so I can most definitely relate to that. I feel bad and I'm the youngest how looks like the opposite with me. I have a brother and two sisters and I'm the baby of the family and I can look at all three of them in certain things about them. I I kind of look up to them for certain things and like you said my older sister who is Faye out when it comes to education. I've always looked up to her because she she she was the oldest and you know, my parents neither one of them even graduated from high school. I dropped out of high school because back then they just felt like they needed to make money. So, you know, really even with my mom, you know, she tells me all the time.

17:31 How she wanted to be a teacher but back in those days, you know, she just felt like it was more feasible for her to quit school to get a job to make it and my parents are older my mom. She was born in the forties. My dad was born and 35 1935. So, you know back in those days on duty, you know, this is really they weren't exposed and they were here in Tuscon weather in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. So, you know, you can just imagine you don't go back to what we were talking about by MLK day, you know today is just so you know, it's a big difference but I can truly say out of four of us has four of us and off. Well, three, all three of us have college education. My brother's not because he could get one he just

18:32 That's that's something that I'm thankful for college very thankful for that. I started out in HBCU.

18:43 My first day of college and I didn't really

18:47 I didn't like it and I was in because of that experience. I don't really have as much respect for hbcus is some people.

18:59 But I'm thankful that we ate we have integrated schools. I think the hbcus definitely serve their part that purpose and I'm happy because of that but

19:12 I was about to say I when I started out at Miles College University, yes. Oh, that's what you were saying.

19:34 But yeah, I started out there and it was it was tough all my life. I've been in the public schools in Birmingham. I went to Birmingham city school. So they are predominantly black and my last few years of school. I transfer to a school system. That was more mix and all I want all I was saying after after it was since I'm going to go to college I might as well go to one. That's all black again until I was just I just want to have that that all black.

20:07 I guess the spirit of the schools that I had I want to experience that again, but it didn't happen again and that just that was my growth and yeah, I didn't really enjoy it. But I definitely enjoy my college experience how much better but

20:25 I don't know. I wonder too. When will that mentality stop movie not need hbcus anymore. You know, that's one of those things that I think about on days like this.

20:38 I know what you talking about, you know today, you know Martin Luther King jr. Day and all of this in about experiences when it comes to education being black or African-American, whatever you want to call it. What about spirituality what role does spirituality and religion play in your life?

21:02 Religion doesn't play a big part of my life spirituality does player that use part? I pray a lot. I pray.

21:16 Throughout simple activities in might I might be just getting in the car to go to check the mail when you say you pray. Who do you pray to God? I pray just to say to do that. And I think it's just that whole prayer.

21:33 It goes hand-in-hand with face. And with those two combined. I think you could just you can be great. And so I I really believe that you have to be spiritual more. So then you have to be religious. I know when you can go to church every Sunday and not get anything out of it. So why do you feel I know you saying that you feel like you have to be spiritual more so than religious. What about neither? Some people are not very spiritual and they are not religious, but they make it through life and they have accomplishments and they are successful. I think that that that goes to your upbringing. I mean I couldn't

22:18 I couldn't tell you. The only thing I can tell you is what what I do and what helps me and that's the main the main focus I think had them but should be the main focus foot for everybody. I was raised very religiously actually, but it wasn't until the family got older that we began to understand the difference television and spirituality. So

22:46 Again, that's that's that depends on that person and I got you. So that's funny that you said that remember watching.

22:56 Tina Turner

22:58 Every said how she had been just Baptist and then she transferred over to another religion and she seems to have gotten stronger and it's not necessarily that religion per se but it's what she believed in you know, and so it's kind of looks like whatever works for you. I mean, I know you been a director and are you going to

23:27 Get your PhD. So how big is released into you or spirituality to you right now just like you I think I was really racing a religious household Baptist Southern Baptist and my mom she played a big part in that and she pretty much told us his kids as long as you live in my house you going to church so maybe Sunday we had to go to church and I only did we have to go to church we have to be involved in her so it'll be involved in different organizations or what not and

24:01 I can remember being a kid a lot of times. You know how it is. You don't want to go even doing the week. Sometimes you have to go to certain functions of wet. And I didn't after school. You want to just play with your friends. You don't want to go to church but now is an adult they put a big part of my life and I think a lot of just it kind of just called me. Hey, you know what life you're not always going to be able to do what you do and also tell me a disciplined enough and but as an adult, I am more spiritual than religious because I think sometimes you can be religious and you go through the motions and you go to church and you and bother these organizations and you really don't get anything out of it. So I really think it is and I am a Christian so is I believe it's your personal personal. Sorry relationship with God and I think that has helped me out a whole life and my stress levels are just having faith trying to stay motivated discipline going after whatever I want. I feel like that has made me stronger.

25:01 Person

25:03 Good to know that you're not in it by yourself, you know that this very important, you know, I was going to do some sailing dinner.

25:18 What is a future hold?

25:20 I don't know. I wish I knew what does my future hold. Dionne Warwick or LaToya Jackson, so I couldn't hear you exactly but what I wanted to hold, I just want to be happy. I want to give back and just get back to the society.

25:45 You know, I just feel like we're all on this Earth for a purpose and I feel like if you're not really focused and trying to fulfill your purpose that you're just here and I never want to be just here. I just feel like I have I'm on this Earth for a reason. Of course, I do want to finish my Ph.D. I still want to practice occupational therapy if it's having my own Clinic if it's in Academia full-time and Consulting on the side, I just so you know, I love learning. I love teaching so I mean, I just want to live life to the fullest and also to make time for myself till, you know gone great vacations.

26:31 What about you my future my future my future, I think about it everyday. I've been teaching now for three years. So it's it's one of that situation is something that I'm already almost ready to move out of just to do more in the field. I definitely want to continue to work with the youth

26:58 Most ossaa adolescent population and

27:04 I want to go back to school that I feel like I got off track a little bit as far as my dreams are concerned and

27:15 Getting myself involved more soul and kind of going back to what I was previously thinking about in the first place and just trying to do more.

27:29 My original thought I had to original thought so I'm my first original. My major was Communications and I diverted from that to English. I wouldn't have said to cause a diversion but I did go to English. And so I wanted to be in broadcasting and also want to be an English teacher. So right now IT specialist, so I'll just want to kind of go back to what I was originally thinking about and right now is a perfect time to do that considering I'm on my third year I can get into. Some different things that I that I really want to do.

28:14 Just had a better place. I think now then I was on this important is definitely important.

28:24 So anyway, can we can we can talk about anything you want? That's right.

28:31 What do you think about NeNe?

28:34 Houston rule as well. Bring it up to me is history a reality we are okay. I think she's kind of over-the-top, but you know what I admire Nene because I think

28:56 She may be a little over-the-top. But of course is TV. So I think she knows how to give it to you in order to get what she wants or what she needs to go because I've learned in Atlanta that a lot of opportunities have become available to her since this show and so it's just she knows how to put yourself out there and she felt herself right now. So it's either, you know, I found out and television is is not the person that you love the most except for one is not the one that you just really love like on there. So sweet this in this in bed as usual the one that stuff, you know, the b word gets all that, you know.

29:34 God bless it in the same. So do you think that's a bad thing for her to put herself out there?

29:42 And do you think it's a bad look?

29:45 It could have been and a Fanta she has kids. So when you look at it from that perspective, I think you know too kind of said yourself out and become this this person and that people love to hate, you know could send a bad message to your kids. But professionally I have to give her props because she knows how to put yourself out there in order to become more successful, you know, when it comes to money I should say but then again how much money you have is that really does that really make you you know, I fix edsource. I felt like that's a good question. I think some people some people equate money.

30:27 Some people equate money with success.

30:30 And I wonder if I know I'm thinking I'm the type of person what I don't.

30:37 My aim isn't to become a millionaire or billionaire if it happens is great, but I don't I'm not aspire to be that but I still feel successful, you know, and I how do you feel about that? Do you feel success is money.

30:55 I don't at all it says is like I said, you know, I feel like it's it has to do with your Works what you do in life. But I'm how you benefited someone else how you benefited Society on the fan not about, you know, I can buy this so I can fly here and I can do this and I can do that to me money is not success my brother. Now, we have we kind of bumped heads when it comes to that because sometimes he feels that okay. No, I'm the only one of you all who do not have a college education but there's a lot of billionaires and millionaires out there who never went to school. So his mind he feels bad, you know, what's the point? Because if you're going to be rich and you're not trying to tell him you no further your education is not all about trying to be real, you know, so I can tell that he feels bad the more money. You have the more successful you are I'm glad I feel like no, you know, I feel like knowledge is power just understanding the world understand how you can contribute.

31:56 To the society to me. It's more important and then you know how many dollars you have in the bank? If you will is people that don't have that degree or you know that education don't have that same understanding this somebody else with an education does and that's the hard part about

32:21 Helping people to understand why college is important and why is it important to learn certain things? It's not it's not all about that money too. And I do agree with you when you say, you know, the difference in someone who's educator compared to somebody who's not let's agree and I don't agree and the reason why I say that sometimes to you have to have to get your self and you know, they just like with those you can go to college and you know, you expect the instructor Professor what not to do to help you learn or you know, whatever now that you get you get from them. I look a certain people like Oprah in herself and she never did graduate from college, but she is so smart. And so knowledgeable just by just informing herself and reading so I am a big advocate of that, you know, just educating yourself because you may go to school all day.

33:21 Login, you still can be dumb as a doorknob? All right. All right. I do think that you have to definitely educate yourself, but they usually is something somebody is going to be that person to do to help you to get to.

33:42 To that point where you want to educate yourself, it's not just something that I don't think it's something that you if you might be born with that determination, but somebody is going to have to bring it out and I guess that's what I mean. But yeah.

33:57 This is so cool by the time these okay?

34:06 How do you feel about Alabama football? I mean considering the fan?

34:19 But last year was it was definitely a lot better. We did get a championships. I want to go ahead and throw that in there that be that would be 2010 at it was 2010 ride. This is just a year after so long that's pretty cool and distant from Alabama because he he got the correct. And so that's that's a big deal for Alabama and also for black people so I'm really excited about that. That's that makes me feel right.

35:05 We met a long time ago through a mutual friend Ashley and I

35:14 Yeah, we just got to be cool. He's Tell Me Like Somebody. I look up to you and back then I'll just probably hold but then I was just finishing up with was just beginning School. Actually, I just trying to figure out what I want to do with myself and I wouldn't have a big college fan right off the top but I had to start just allowed myself to to understand then tell, show me ropes. So you know, what can I say?

35:52 Where you at?

35:58 Not really, you know, like I said, we met through a mutual friend and we all started hanging out and I guess what made us become friends was you know, cuz I moved, you know, a little older than Marcus but I saw a lot of potential and Marcus kind of he kind of reminded me of myself at that age or whatnot. So we started hanging or what what not, but I really didn't notice it. So possibly later, you know, but at first I really did that I had that influence.

36:28 And it was so it was so cool. Cuz I was like, nope. It's healed somebody else that.

36:35 Has beginning somewhere similar to mine some of it and that that was that was just cool to me because like I said, somebody has to wake that that whole determination factor and it wasn't that my was asleep, but it was it was going to sleep. But but yeah that was so that was that was cool. I appreciate that man. Oh, yeah, man.

37:07 What else another big deal?

37:10 What's going on right now? Janet Jackson. He's going on tour this year. Yes. He's a big deal. Maybe if you ever hear this. Love you Janet.

37:29 I loved you ever since you were Penny on Good Times.

37:36 But Beyonce UI for new blood vessels grade.

37:49 Hopefully we get our place back in line them anytime. But to me, it's just to be amongst everybody. You know, they just to see everybody out here and I'll even if I'm not even able to go into the museum, I think it still was a great day to be amongst the people have to put this I must say this to I was so excited just because when I got here only black people but you know, you know why people have spelled different people of different races out here showing, you know, the Gratitude and just showing, you know to be interested in a lot of people think of this MLK of just a black holiday. It is not because he was just in a fight for equality among all people for people to live together in harmony.

38:49 You know that that that that was a good good fellow. I'm happy to be out here and I wanted to go to the museum but it was a Civil Rights Institute. And I still do I'm just still surprised that line. There was a long line so surprised but you know, it's free today. And so that's that's awesome.

39:13 It's all about the dance. So I guess after I leave here, I'll probably go home and finish watching Atlanta housewives and I'm so embarrassed that I'm saying that to probably do some reading you embarrassed. I do too much. I knew you would have been great. I'm glad I actually had the opportunity to talk o yeah.